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Exploring Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH)

    • Janaina Moura de Oliveira
      Ansys Employee

      Exploring Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH): Common Questions and Practical Applications

      The Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) is a  Lagrangian mesh-free method for the continuum media simulations. It is useful for accounting the fluid effect on particles in problems with high solid content and free surface flows.  Here are some frequently asked questions about SPH: 

      • What is SPH and how does it work? 

      SPH is a mesh-free Lagrangian method for simulating fluid flow and other physical phenomena. It represents fluids as a collection of particles and uses a smoothing kernel to interpolate properties between neighboring particles. This allows it to model complex fluid behavior with high accuracy. 


      • Where is SPH commonly applied? 

      SPH is widely used in fluid dynamics simulations, including ocean modeling, astrophysical simulations (such as galaxy formation and star formation), and industrial applications like dam break analysis and hydraulic engineering. 

      SPH Dam Break simulation using Ansys Rocky simulation software.  

      SPH Dam Break simulation using Ansys Rocky simulation software. 


      • Can SPH be used with other physics? 

       The SPH method can be used with other physics such as the DEM method (Discrete Element Method). The SPH-DEM approach allows the capturing of free-surface flow dynamics by discretizing the fluid into a set of fluid elements. Powered by a computationally efficient GPU-based solver, the SPH entity allows the solving of practical problems in engineering applications. 

       SPH-DEM simulation using Ansys Rocky simulation software. 

      SPH-DEM simulation using Ansys Rocky simulation software. 


      • What are the advantages of using SPH over traditional grid-based methods? 

      SPH offers several advantages, including natural handling of free surfaces, adaptability to complex geometries, and inherent parallelism. It excels in scenarios where grid-based methods struggle, such as simulating fluid-structure interactions or extreme fluid deformations. 


      • What is smoothed particle hydrodynamics kernel function? 

      The kernel function is the core of the SPH method as it dictates how a local fluid property is computed based on the neighboring SPH elements. The kernel functions look like a Gaussian function but have compact support, being equal to zero above certain pre-set values of the argument, which is the distance between SPH elements. 


      Understanding SPH and its applications can be essential for engineers, scientists, and researchers working on fluid-related problems across various domains.


      Learn more about SPH in the video below:



      Ansys Rocky is the industry-leading discrete element method (DEM)

      software used for simulating the motion of granular

      and discontinuous material.  

      Ansys Rocky: Exploring the Multiphysics Simulation Universe beyond DEM. 

      Learn more about Rocky in the Ansys Rocky Community.


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